Event Date: 07/22/2015 (2:00 pm EDT - 3:00 pm EDT)
SARA: Welcome to today’s webinar, Developing Uncommon Sense in Managers: Bypassing the Buzzwords for Real Results, hosted by HRDQU and presented by Christee Atwood. Today’s webinar will last around one hour. If you have any questions, go ahead and type them into that questions window or the chat window and that is usually located in the upper right-hand side of your screen. And then we will answer those questions either as they come in live or at the end of the presentation. We may follow up with some of those by email afterwards. My name is Sara Montgomery and I will moderate today’s webinar.
For over two decades, Christee Gabour Atwood has focused her efforts on creating learning opportunities and doing so while linking laughter and learning. Her rationale: We always remember a joke longer than a lecture. She is the best-selling author of five business and training books which have been translated into both Japanese and Chinese and are used in universities from the United States to Korea and Lebanon. She has coordinated skills development systems and the sharing of knowledge within organizations ranging from governmental agencies and municipalities, corporate and retail organizations, associations and nonprofits, to roaming bands of kazoo players. Now, the kazoo players were a total loss but that other groups benefited from her guidance and uncommon sense suggestions. Welcome, and thank you so much for joining us today, Christee.
CHRISTEE ATWOOD: Thank you, Sara. And thank all of you who joined us here today. In today’s session, we are going to be sharing some great ideas of ways to develop uncommon sense. To come up with no-nonsense practices that can help to improve skills whether the skills we’re looking to develop are within ourselves or others that we are responsible for coaching in our organization. We are seeing evidence that common sense is dying in the world of managers. We see managers who think that a department-wide memo replaces individual coaching when there is a problem with one single person. We see projects being dumped, not delegated. We see managers who fire employees by email, yes, it’s true. And, worst of all, we see managers think that you could leave employees effectively without knowing anything about them. I’ve known all of these managers. Okay, let’s be honest. I’ve been some of these managers. That’s what made me realize that common sense isn’t as widespread as we might hope. And it led me to begin working on developing principles of uncommon sense. We are going to draw on some of that during today’s session, and by the way, if you hear me using any buzzwords today, you have the right to throw something at me. I won’t notice, but today’s program is going to discuss four specific areas. The shifting sets of challenges facing today’s managers. We are dealing with technology and people issues that are more involved than ever before. Will also be looking at tools and techniques to identify developmental needs. I want to be sure today that you left with very specific things that would help you put these ideas into action. So I think you’re going to like the sampling of tools that I have selected. Also, we are going to look at my uncommon sense principles for effective management. Don’t run with scissors, that was a nice start. But we are going to go even more deep than that so be prepared. And then were also going to discuss how to create ongoing learning opportunities for management and management candidates, whether those individuals are you or somebody that you manage.
Are you set? I hope so. Now, as managers, we are facing challenges every day that range from the ridiculous to the sublime. I mean really, seriously, some days we are just trying to get our workforce to act slightly older than school-age kids having a fight at recess. Yes, I know that you just nodded. And some days you have this incredible team, and the biggest challenge is what you can do to recognize their achievements. Oh, for more of those days. So, what I want to ask is what challenges do you face? What challenges do the managers in your organization encounter most often. Now, I want you to take a moment to type some of those and in that little box on the side of your screen so that we can share them and see if we discover some themes in all this. So are your challenges in operations or are they function problems? Are there training people problems? Oh yeah, I’m starting to see something interesting here. Let’s say, no training, no support, lack of accountability, oh, huge, top-heavy leadership, inherited teams, negativity. I’m seeing negativity, over and over, time, constructive feedback, fear of confrontation, oh that’s a huge one with managers nowadays. You know, y’all came to this loaded for bear, didn’t you? You see, I’m from the South you heard a y’all there. These are some really good points. This is good because I’m starting to see a lot of these fall into some of our specific areas that we looked at because I’m starting to see self-management areas and I’m seeing areas that we have employee management issues. The communication, yes that’s always going to come up. And no administrative backing, that definitely comes under sometimes company cultures because those can be so different. Young managers with no experience, oh Lord those ones that think that every situation can be covered the exact same way regardless of who you’re dealing with. I’m seeing a lot of communication issues, change management, not enough staff. We’re all having to do more with less, aren’t we? I’m almost worn out just reading these. These are all the same sorts of challenges and it’s interesting that they all fall under the categories that we have here. The communication, the shifting from coworker to boss, managing change, I’m seeing that coming up over and over again. Prioritization, yes, even finger-pointing which is part of that employee performance and relationships. All of those are very real challenges that managers face today. I’m seeing the best trim here the fact is that we are not alone. We share a lot of the same challenges. A lot of those are going to talk about some of these principles today and a lot of those I’m going to make sure to send you some extra information after the session that will help you on some of the specific ideas. Oh you all are good you are engaged. I love that.
Okay, let’s also take it to the next step and stop for a minute. I want you to think of the best leader you can think of. Now this can be somebody you know personally, it could be a past boss, friend, maybe somebody from history or a coach. It’s just somebody you think of as a great leader. And now I want to you to think of what made them so great. What made this person so special? Oh yes, sharing information openly, listening, somebody just put my name in there a former employee I think, I love that person, empowerment, yes, knowledgeable, you gotta know what you’re talking about, consistency, oh thank you, that fairness that we need to talk about. These are some incredible points that you are bringing up and a lot of them fall into this area that we talk about here. Look at this you said integrity, you said they were flexible, they were able to work with different situations. Creativity, yes, that one comes up. Inspiring, yes, helping recognize our strengths and the things we need to develop. These are the sorts of things that starts helping us realize the kind of leader we are looking for. It starts making us realize the type of leader that we want to be. And, yes, we don’t have to have all of these traits to be a perfect a leader but the fact is, working on all of these traits, working on any of these traits any time, that’s the sign of a good leader. In all of these are part of the leadership skills that we want to nurture in ourselves and others in our organizations.
Caring about our people. This is excellent. All of these are really good points you all are bringing out. So, what we’ve done right now is we have looked at a sample of the challenges we have in our organizations and I’m seeing that we have a lot of the same sorts of challenges. We have looked at some of the wonderful skills that can help with those challenges. Now let’s put the two together.
Think about your organization and which of the skill sets we discussed would help with the challenges you’re facing right now. Maybe they are the strategic thinking skills, the communication skills, the decision-making. That’s the place we want to start. We want to discover which skills we can develop that will help with our specific challenges. And in order to do that I want to give you some tools today that will help in the support of that and will help in the support of others that you are trying to develop. To help assess your needs and your current skill levels I have included some of the tools from my managers skills training book. You’re going to get these with your post session email that you’ll get from the good folks at HRDQ. The first one, this is a little sample of the managers self-assessment, it takes you through some of the most important areas for effective management. Things like communication, performance, management, problem solving and teamwork. What you’ll do is you will go through this annual review these considerations. It will help you get a feel for where you are or where the manager that you are helping could use some additional development. And, yes, it is perfectly acceptable to have somebody else rank you with one of these, too. I mean, if you are brave enough for that it gives you a real picture of where you are right now. And, if you want somebody brutally honest, you can always ask your family. I personally have never had the nerve for that. So, what you do then, as you’re going to be looking at this and picking one action to work on at a time. It is a great way to focus your energy on the changes that will make the most impact on your interaction with others. And, if you’re coaching someone, that’s a great way to keep your coaching session on point. You pick one area to work on, you practice, you evaluate, and then you redo. You go to another one. So that’s a basic tool that we are going to be using that you’ll get from today’s session. Here is another one. Good old individual development plan. Yes, the buzzword is IDP. No, I’m not using it. Did I mention I don’t like buzzwords? But this individual development plan builds on what we just discovered from the managers self-assessment.
We’re going to identify our strongest skills because we all need to give ourselves a pat on the back occasionally. You know, it’s really amazing, and I see this with most people that I work with, we are always ready to kick ourselves for what we don’t do well, but we forget to talk about what we do well. So, we use a manager assessment form and we find skill areas that we have and the ones that we want to develop. Then we use the individual development form to track the steps. Okay, for example, say you decide communication skills, I need to work on that. I want my presentation skills to be stronger and more confident. Excellent goal, I’m glad you decided on that. There are a bunch of steps you can take and you see the little form has a place for that. It could be something like joining Toastmasters; it could be taking a leadership role with the volunteer group. It can be taking a class; it could be finding a mentor. We determine our steps. We list the help we need, that’s the assistance needed resource column and we give ourselves a deadline, because without a deadline you know what happens? Nothing. Most of us need the 11th hour to get anything done. But I like this form because it puts development into our own hands. It’s really nice to have a director who works with us on our development. But, in a lot of organizations, that director is doing great to find time to work on his or her own development. So it’s really important that we be willing to take the driving role in our own development. And this form helps us do that. Or, it allows our managers or potential managers to take responsibility for developing themselves. With us taking more of an advisory role and it kind of keeps us from micromanaging their development.
Now, the next form is the development form. I like this because in coordination with individual development plan, this allows us to get even more specific about our areas of strengths, our development opportunities, and even to assess our performance in our current position. This is a great form for anyone to use when they sit down with their director and compare notes. Because one of the challenges I’m finding with management is that there are times when we really feel like we are doing great and then only the problem ends up being the fact that we are great at the things that don’t matter and we’re not as good at the things that matter. This assessment allows us to have that conversation to ensure that we are on the same page. Because the time to find out that we are not doing well is not at the annual performance review. Anyone who waits till that time to tell an employee that there are problems is not being an effective manager.
This form, it also does something that helps us as people. It asks about feelings. I know that sounds kind of corny, doesn’t it? But it’s real. I mean you’re asking, what does a person feel they have done well? What drives them crazy? What do they like to do? What a concept! These kinds of insights help us because not all advancement has to be up the ladder. Sometimes you get frustrated. Maybe we are not in a position where the person over us is not going anywhere. Well, this form identifies areas where that person could benefit from assignments that help them to advance or grow with other responsibilities. Honestly, it was questions like these that helped me discover training as a passion of mine. At that point I had moved into an executive position, so I felt like I had gone high enough, but it was when I thought about the parts of my position that I liked the most, then I realized I really love sharing knowledge and helping people develop their skills. And that’s what led me into the career of training and consulting that I am in now. Now, I mentioned earlier that the time for a person to hear that they are underperforming is not at the annual performance review. Because if that’s the only time we are talking to our managers, we definitely have a problem. And that’s why I included this appraisal preparation list. This form is important information for a director or manager. What I like about it is if you share with your employees, because it can also help them prepare for coaching sessions with you. I really believe an employee should have the same opportunity that the evaluator does to prepare for a performance appraisal. So, whether you are the manager who uses this to prepare for evaluations of your staff or you are a manager who is using this to prepare for your evaluation, these are some ideas that can get you off on the right foot. Now, I’m not going to go through all of the details of this form, but you have my contact information so you will be able to get in touch with me if you have any questions. I have included all of these tools because I wanted to be sure you had some real world assistance that came out of the session. And I hope those do help.
So, now I’m afraid that I want to share some real world notes with a little bit of my own slightly confused sense of humor. Like Sarah said, my theme for life is linking laughter and learning. We do, we remember a joke longer than we remember lectures. Unfortunately if they are dirty jokes that we can’t tell anybody we remember them even longer, but, these ideas can be useful ideas for you. These principles that I’ve created. And so I’ve actually put a lot of them into a meme format so you can share them with any employees you are trying to develop. Mostly these are lessons that I have learned the hard way. And sometimes I’ve had to learn them twice. Really bad situations I’ve had to learn 17 or 18 times. I never said I was all that smart. Okay, the first principle I’m sharing with you today is everything we know that management we learn from television. And that’s bad. Now in the old days I used to say that everything we know about management we learned from Larry Tate on Bewitched, but that dated me seriously. For those of you from a different generation let me explain. Larry Tate was the boss on Bewitched and anytime something went wrong on that show, his immediate response was fire Darren in front of the client, and usually loudly. And thus was born a generation of jerk managers. We are so much more advanced today, you know. We’ve learned from shows like Survivor, if you don’t like someone you vote them off the island. Or we do like to show the Office or the Apprentice or NCIS were Gibbs’ management technique is to hit people on the back of the head. Well, the whole point of all of this is we don’t have enough good examples for management. The bad ones are so much more interesting and are stories that stay in our minds. You know, maybe if we realize that TV is not real and we change our way of learning about management by watching real world good examples and recognizing what we like and doing those things and, nah, it will never work. But, I will say this, that during this webinar you, just taking time to think about good leaders like we did, and talking about their strongest traits is probably more management study than most people ever do. So please, take a moment to pat yourself on the back.
Next principle: To communicate, close your mouth. Yes, that’s me and, that tape, that’s the way people like me best. You know, they used to say we’ve got two ears and one mouth, so we should do twice as much listening as we do talking. I dream of the day that more people apply that principle. I mean, it’s true. We don’t learn anything while we are talking. And if we talk longer than 60 seconds, without giving others a chance to respond, chances are they have checked out of the conversation and are now working on their grocery list in their head. Working on active listening skills is one of the strongest activities any manager can do. And real listening means no multitasking. In other words, stop texting. Yes, you can do it while you are listening, but the perception of the other person is that you are not listening. And use body language to show your listening. That’s a vital part of the process. That means leaning forward, using eye contact, appropriate facial expressions, nodding, taking notes. All of these things are the kinds of things that will remind you not to multitask and stay focused on the person who is speaking. And that will make them feel like they’ve really been heard. Listening is the great lost art. And non-multitasking is the secret to great listening.
Does this word make my brain look big? Okay, you know in school we were taught to use way too many words. We were just trying to get to the number of words we were assigned on the essay. You remember those 500-word essays where you want to quote 100 bottles of beer on the wall, all the words of that song? And business reports, we always think we have to use scholarly words. I cannot tell you how many times I have told people the words utilize and use mean the same thing and you don’t get paid by the letter. What I called two-dollar words, those are for impressing not expressing, and they are not real communication, because those words don’t make sense to all of our audiences. Consider the audience. Use nickel words. A vocabulary in terms that they will understand not ones that make them think you are smart, ones that make them feel smart because they get what you’re trying to explain. That is real communication.
All right another principle is the fact that but is a dirty word. This is a red flag phrase. Red flags or phrases that we say that make our audiences get so angry that they see red. I mean think about it. There are phrases that drive all of us crazy. Things like we’ve always done it that way. And you’re still worried about sailing off the edge of the earth, aren’t you? Or how about the one about what were you thinking? Because I obviously feel you weren’t thinking. And the word but. I believe it should be outlawed as the worst curse word, because it negates anything good you said before it. How about this, this report is good, but … Now I know the report is garbage because there was a but. And the funny thing is we don’t even need to use the word but. You can reword any but statement to make it without the but. Like an example, this report is good. No but. Then you finish it, here’s a good idea for next time. You might want to limit the number of four letter words you use. See, I said it. I didn’t use the word but. Here is a great exercise you might want to try it at one of your upcoming staff meetings. Have everybody get together and come up with a list of red flag phrases. Things that make them crazy that they hate to hear. And you put all of those together and then as a group to come up with alternate phrases for those. So things like that’s not my job becomes let me introduce you to our specialist in that area. Does not sound so much better? So everybody gets this list, they work on alternate phrases, you keep adding to it and it becomes a way to create more positive language in your department. And you know the funny thing is you can have the list next to you and not even refer to it. Just having it makes you feel more optimistic. It reminds you to be positive.
Our next principle is saying just doesn’t make the piano any lighter. So compare these two. I need to move this piano. I just need to move this piano. The piano is still darned heavy. It is not made any lighter by saying the word just. This principle can be summed up by saying watch the words that you use. Unconsciously we are using words all the time that belittle what we do and what others do. I mean think when we do this to people we say things like I just need you to write up a report or I want you to get this project wrapped up, you know just the loose ends or, just tell me when you’re going to have it done. All work is important. There’s a good one, all you have to do is, thank you, John that was a good one. If we start labeling and ranking it with words like little or just for all you have to do then we better be ready when our employees start thinking that it only requires a little effort. Or they decide to just let it slip through the cracks if it’s so unimportant. Pay attention to the words we use.
Oh here’s a fun principle. The person who does that is not here today I love this one. You call a well-established company and ask for something and they answer, the person who does that isn’t here today. This does not inspire confidence. You mean you got a mega million dollar company and there’s only one person who handles this task? This does not bode well for the time when that one person retires or hits the lottery or gets run over by a rhinoceros. This shows a company that does not engage in the sharing of knowledge. Instead, they follow the hoarding concept. The hoarding concept is the old mindset, you remember the one, if I’m the only one who knows how to do this I’ve got job security. I’ve met a lot of people from the unemployment office. If you want a way to ensure people share knowledge, remind them if they are the only one who knows how to do a process that that work will be sitting on their desk when they come back from vacation, that’s if they get to take a vacation. This I find usually motivates people to teach each others what they do.
Okay, I didn’t say you look stupid. This principle brings us down to it’s not what we say, it’s how we say it. I didn’t say looked stupid. That’s not a basic statement it’s a good thing. But do you realize how much your tone can change a good statement? Let’s look simply at changing the inflection. Let’s put all the emphasis on I. I didn’t say you look stupid. What did I just say? I didn’t say you look stupid. Somebody did, but it wasn’t me. Okay, let’s put the emphasis on say. I didn’t say you looked stupid. Okay I thought it, but I didn’t say it. Okay, we put it on stupid then. I didn’t say you looked stupid. I said something else, it was much worse. But I did not say you look stupid. That is just by changing our emphasis on the words. Every day, we as managers are saying all the right words in the wrong way. A little attention to the tone of our message is just plain uncommon sense and a little attention to our body language and all the other parts of our messages to ensure that we are giving people the right impression of what we’re trying to get across.
EQ. EQ is cool, okay. We’ve always heard of IQ as being so important. But EQ is even more important. IQ is intelligence quotient. EQ is emotional quotient, or as I say here the ability to now that you’re about to get a rotten tomato thrown at you. I guess that’s how you can tell I used to be in standup comedy. So, what we’re talking about, EQ is simply noticing the effect that our words are having on another person and being able to adjust the message that we are giving them to make sure that things stay on a positive track. Some people are so good at this. They can tell when their words are putting up barriers instead of making conversation better. They pay attention to someone other than themselves during conversations. This is truly a skill worth developing. And if you need a simple way to remind you, just keep watching out for rotten tomatoes and glaring looks. Either one tells you that you need to keep working on the skill of EQ.
Baggage is not just something you lose on flights. We are the result of years of pats on the back, kicks in the pants, and trips on the sidewalk. It’s our baggage. It comes from our upbringing, our education, our location, our everything. We all have baggage. The successful ones of us are the ones who learn to control our baggage rather than letting our baggage control us. Learning to be objective. Treating every situation as though we’ve never seen it before. That’s what we want to develop. If we can develop a skill, we will be considered the fairest in the land. And I don’t mean by a magic mirror or Disney animals. I mean by being consistent and fair in our actions. I mean you can be cute too, but fairness really is a lot better.
Yes, and I thank you politics is misspelled. Office politics is like shifting deck chairs on the Titanic. And together with management it makes for a lot of spinning plates and juggling cats. The cat thing is really a neat comparison to office politics. The uncommon sense management principle on office politics is avoidance. So often we think we have to take sides. But we don’t. What we need to be on the side is our organization’s mission, vision, and code of ethics. I say whenever you get a conversation coming up or an idea, you hold that idea against the company’s mission, vision, and ethics, and if it doesn’t support those, pass on it. And it just makes things a lot easier than the dodgeball of office politics.
If I love what I do, why would I want to manage people who are getting to do what I love to do? I talked about this in the description of the class. Why do we think that a person who loves their job in accounting wants to be the manager of other accountants? It’s not even the same skill set. And if the person loves being an accountant, they will hate not getting to do that kind of work because they’re busy arguing with Fred over there about why he was late getting back from lunch. Uncommon sense means realizing that not everybody wants to be a manager. Some people have more sense than that. Real career discussions with ourselves and with others need to include a realistic picture of what is included in management. Then people can make an honest decision on whether they want to deal with the functions of management or develop expanded responsibilities in their current field. I wish we could reverse the trend of having people think that unless they are moving up the ladder they are not a real success. Honestly real success is finding the spot where you’re happiest. And that is the spot we are going to be most productive, too.
Do you really want a bunch of clowns on your team? No, because most of us are scared of clowns. But besides that, building effective teams is a part of management. And uncommon sense says that you need to get people who aren’t like you on your team. Otherwise everybody spends a lot of time nodding and agreeing and nobody notices that the team’s plan is unrealistic. I don’t know if you remember those four basic personality types we used to hear about on the disk model. Which one is you: dominant, you are direct, you tell it like it is, sometimes it makes the other personality types say ouch. Is this one sounding like you? You make things happen. You solve problems. You don’t mind taking risks. You like a little competition. Okay. You are dominant. How about influencing? How many of you are this one: friendly, outgoing, talkative, people call you a people person. Yes, sometimes you are a bit impulsive, and if people don’t give you a chance to talk and you just have to sit there you are gone on a mental vacation to the Bahamas. Or is that just me? Oh well. That’s influencing. I’m sure some of you just recognized yourselves. The steady personality. Love you. You are a team player. We can count on you. You are consistent, and you want the team to play nice together. Sometimes you find yourself end up being like the counselor of the team or the peacemaker. You are not thrilled about change, because that upsets the team. And then we have our compliant type personalities. Our amazing analysts, our organizers of information, and the voice of reality who tells us when our ideas won’t work. And yes, sometimes that probably makes you sound a bit negative. Oh, and you are a perfectionist who believes that success is in the details. Do you recognize yourself in some of these personality traits? I don’t talk about these to label anybody. I don’t know all about them. I just read a lot of books on them trying to figure out what makes me tick. The one thing I have learned is that I don’t want a team full of any one of these personalities. Without a good combination of these, we don’t have teams that get anything accomplished. So, while we might feel more comfortable being around people with similar personality traits, we do a lot better to have some of those people that we are not in sync with on teams. That ensures that we have a good mix of ideas and a taste of reality.
Our next principal: Don’t bring me a solution with that problem. This is talking about the art of decision-making without using eenie meenie miney moe. The concept here is don’t be a fixer. A fixer is a manager who is absolutely wonderful because they have a solution to every problem that is brought to them. What could possibly be wrong with that? Well then they have a department of people who bring every problem to them. And that is a problem. We’ve all heard the old saying, don’t bring me a problem without bringing a solution. Now that was nice. That’s a good start. The challenge here is that the person is now committed to their solution, even if it is not realistic. And that becomes almost harder than fixing the original problem. I got the greatest gift when somebody told me in one of my training sessions that their manager insisted on them bringing two potential solutions to any problem. It is so simple I don’t know why I’ve never heard it before. When a person brings you two solutions instead of just one, they are not totally committed to either one. And that immediately builds flexibility. And it creates an atmosphere for discussion instead of debate. Try it, you will like it. And if you want to have a problem solving session, to be a real opportunity for development for everybody involved, here’s a great idea. Don’t present your ideas first. Because then you’ve got a bunch of people who want to agree with you because it’s easier or because they want you to like them, so don’t give your solutions first. Let them give solutions and then work with them because sometimes they even come up with better solutions than the ones you would have had.
Meetings: Group naptime. Yes, that’s another principle. If you want to take a nap on work time you just call a meeting. That is the prevailing sentiment. I’ve seen estimates of everything from 57% to 99% of the time in meetings is considered to be wasted time. I’d probably go up to hundred percent but I think that one percent of meetings has doughnuts. Meetings are wasted time because we’re doing them all wrong. There are a number of things to consider with meetings. First, not every meeting needs to be face-to-face. Yes, sometimes you are lonely and want to see other people. Go to happy hour for that. But meetings can be just as effective as email meetings where we just use reply all. Or as chat rooms or online bulletin board meetings where you post your notes, you read what people have to say, and post some more. You got notes automatically done for you there. Of course online and phone meetings, Skype, all of those are right ways to meet, too. Sometimes we have staff meetings just as a time for update. Well, how about instead if you had everyone turn in their update and you circulate the compiled document. A nice, simple way to make sure everybody knows what’s going on. Another thing, the worst words to hear when you get to a meeting are why are we here? It’s even worse when those of the last words, and I’ve heard that happen before. We can avoid that with some uncommon sense preparation. First, send out the agenda well in advance and include in that what the desired results from the meeting will be so you know what success is based on. Also, the person that you are inviting, tell why you are inviting them. What their role is that they are being invited for. That helps in case they can’t come, they can send a substitute in that specific area of expertise. Give them ideas of what you will need from them so they can do homework in advance. Otherwise you have everybody getting together for a meeting, what happens? They all have to leave and get information so you can meet again. I believe he who holds the least number of meetings is the winner.
30 seconds or it’s free. This principle is based on, remember the old days of the delivery place that used to say they would get pizza to us in 30 minutes or it was free? So, what could we do in 30 seconds that would be useful? The elevator speech. The elevator speech is the most underused tool that can make our lives so much easier. What is it? For those of you who haven’t heard it imagine that you are in an elevator, the door opens on floor three and there he is. The person you’ve been trying to get a meeting with, the person that will make a difference in your career. He presses floor seven. The doors close. You now have from floor 3 to floor seven to get that point across what you need him to hear. It is the project that is closest to your heart. So you start, hi, I’ve been trying to get to talk to you. I’ve been hoping that, I was kind of wondering. Floor seven and you didn’t get to point number one. An elevator speech is one that you already have prepared on topics that are important to you, that you are passionate about, and it fits in the time of an average elevator ride. 30 seconds is perfect. Then you would get the most important points across. And then if the elevator breaks down, of course you can give him the detailed point by point version. And an elevator speech is also a great way to formulate the answer to any question that you are asked. To create an elevator speech you can use a simple formula. I called the SET formula S is where you get the short summary or the short answer to the question. E is the evidence. That’s like, up to three facts that support the summary statement. And T is the transition. That’s where you hand back over to the other person so that they have a chance to continue the discussion or to answer what you have been talking about. Longer than 30 seconds and you are starting to bore the person, and you’re taking the chance they are thinking of ways to make their phone ring so they can get away from you. Let me give you an example of how this SET formula would work. Say the boss asks how the XYZ project is going. You answer with a short answer. It’s going great. Actually ahead of schedule. Now you give the evidence by saying we’ve already finished phases one and two. Phase 3 will be completed by Thursday. And we will be doing the debriefing next week. And you transition by saying were there any specific areas you would like to know more about? You just gave an elevator speech and you sounded pretty darn good if I may say so myself. Which I obviously must. We should all have elevator speeches prepared about the things that are most important to us. Then we never miss an opportunity to get our information to others who could help us or whom we could help. And if you would use this for your staff meetings, imagine how nice that would be. Have everybody report on their projects in the form of 30-second elevator speeches? 30 seconds or it’s free, wouldn’t work for pizza delivery, but boy does it work for our communication practices.
Managing means sometimes having to say you’re sorry. Yes, that one sounds strange. But, as a manager, you’re often the person who gets called upon when a person has gone through everybody else. And the first thing that offended party wants to hear is an apology. The important thing here to realize is that an apology is not admitting something was wrong. It’s apologizing that the person is going through a negative experience. Basic formula that will make your life happier in these situations, listen, apologize, and then work on the solution and forget the blame completely.
Our next principle is thank goodness for mistakes, they prove I’m still trying new things. We need to let our team now that it’s okay to make mistakes. As a good leader we should let them enjoy when we mess up. I mean yes, I have made so many mistakes. I am to success what Kim Kardashian is too gracious living. It’s at those times when I realized that I have to stop and remind myself that failures have created some of the greatest successes in history. If some glue hadn’t have failed then we wouldn’t have sticky notes. Other mistakes, ice cream cones, potato chips, even chocolate chip cookies. Without those mistakes we would have missed out on a lot of good things. Yes, we’d be thinner but that is a different discussion. So, the main concept of this principle is not to ignore our mistakes but to celebrate them, look for the lessons in them, and share them.
So, who is going to do what by when? This principle is the most important one for any meeting or project planning session you have. If you end any meeting without these words, you know who is going to do something? Nobody. Every gathering should end with these words or you just wasted a boatload of time. It ensures that responsibilities and deadlines have been assigned and it makes follow-up and accountability that much easier.
So, I’d like to know some of the practices that work for you in helping develop manager skills. I’m seeing some really neat things here were someone said about its re-humanizing managers. Listen, give time, allow mistakes, reconnect with the things you like, thank you, Sylvia that is outstanding. That’s what it is all about. Uncommon sense is bringing those things back into our lives. Now, I’d love you to go ahead and type some ideas in. I know we can’t cover all of them because we’ve gone through a good piece of our time, but, anyone that we don’t get to talk about I can include in the post session email. Some things that I’m seeing, oh, one on ones with your staff members, regular meetings like that, excellent, and creating mentoring programs like that. You know it’s so funny? We think about mentoring programs as something new, but my dad who is hundred and one tells me about being a printer’s apprentice for years before he was allowed to call himself a printsman. Mentoring is a great way to keep employees who are reaching the end of their careers engaged by teaching others and it keeps us from having all that knowledge drained away. Let’s see here, gosh you all got some great ideas. Getting to know employees personally, having conversations with them, lunch and learn programs, I love those. What a great idea.
Something that I’ve been doing lately that I’m really having a lot of fun with, I’ve been playing a lot with the idea of ?? And it sounds so geeky but honestly it’s just creating a link to your organization’s intranet what frequently asked questions are. Talk about a great way for people who might be embarrassed that they missed something in orientation or something very basic, something that they need to find out. Having an ongoing knowledge base like that can be really handy. So that’s one to keep in mind, too. So all of these are the kinds of ideas that we can use and continue to share with each other and continue to build upon.
I hope that you got some ideas here today that you can use. I know that you probably won’t remember all the things you wanted to work on. That’s why I want you to look at the follow-up email in the PDF of the forms that I mentioned. I think they will jog your memory of the things that you work on, the assessment that you want to work on, your manager skills that you wanted to work on, and remember this too, as we talk about all of these things, the next time that somebody throws some new initials at you are the latest buzzword or a paradigm shift is often just a new name for an old idea. Go back and think about the idea with a little uncommon sense. And you can tailor any new initiative into something that’ll work for you and your organization. So, I believe this is the point where I turn things over to Sara to see if anybody has any questions.
SARA: Yes, absolutely. Thank you so much Christee this was a wonderful, wonderful session, and the audience is great here today, so, I think we’re going to get a lot of questions that are going to come in, so go ahead and send those in. While we wait for some of those to come in I do just want to quickly give people information on how to stay in touch with us. So here’s how to stay in touch with Christee, here is her website, it’s www.Christee.biz and you can of course stay in touch with HRDQ. Check us out on social media and then make sure you sign up for our webinar Wednesdays to hear more things from our great partners.
So, we have a lot coming in, let’s see. We’re going to start here with Peg has a question here. And her question here is what ideas do you have from managers that have transitioned from peer to boss?
CHRISTEE: Oh, man, now that can be a challenge. That’s harder than coming from the outside isn’t it? That’s one of those things where one of the most important things you can do first is to sit down and visit with your employees individually and talk to them, making them understand where you’re going to go and how you have to change the way you address things before situation occurs. It helps build a better relationship with them. Working with them and having them understand that yeah you’re probably going to have to cut out some of those weekend trips everyone did when they went to the happy hour and things like that. They’re going to be some ways that you are not going to be working the same way, but the great thing is to remind them that all those things you have learned and all those things that you have experienced with them are part of your repertoire of knowledge now and you are going to be in a position where you can actually make a difference. That’s one of the strongest things that you can do. It’s a shaky transition in some cases but, taking the time to talk to people, taking the time to get their ideas and start off on a good slate like that can make all the difference in that transition.
SARA: Wonderful, thank you. Our next question here comes from Harry, and Harry asks about budgets, so, how can we create leadership development programs when we don’t really have a budget for it?
CHRISTEE: That’s a really good point because leadership programs don’t really have to be expensive. It mean it could be as simple as creating a book club where everybody reads leadership books and then comes back brings the main points to everybody else. Or they pick one book and they all read it together and then they come back and get into in-depth analysis. You could also put together a list of free resources. Oh man, there are, just do an Internet search and you will find some of the coolest programs. I’m working with the library right now that’s so incredible. They have all these free online classes that you can take. Find things like that and have them available as resources to your folks so that they know that there are all kinds of ways that they can develop their skills even if it’s not coming directly from you, and then create a way for them to document what they have done so you keep up with their development and they get credit for all the extra development that they are doing.
SARA: Yes, okay, good, we have another one here from Vanessa, and she’s asking about the middle management issues. So she says, how do you please those above and below you without suffering burnout, which I’m sure is a tricky piece but how does a middle manager, do you manage that above or do you manage that below?
CHRISTEE: Having a split personality helps, Vanessa. But that’s a difficult one. Yes, as middle management you are in a difficult area. The thing that you really want to do is make sure that you are taking care of yourself. That means that you take time specifically to meet with those above you occasionally with your list of projects, hold that list of projects out to them and say here’s what I’ve got going on, help me once again to prioritize to make sure I’m working on the ones that are most important to you. Or if they add a new project, which one needs to drop off than if I’m going to put this new one in there? That way, you are once again on the same page and they know that you are working on the things that are most important to you. And the same thing with the people who work for you. Occasionally, because they won’t probably come to you, call them in and say, okay let’s look at your list of projects. And every once in a while if you could do something like say oh, you know what, this one, let’s give this to somebody else. Then you have done something incredible for them, and you’ve made them even stronger. And of course don’t forget delegation. It’s really important. It’s a way we teach other people and let them grow at the same time, we are taking some of the stress off of us.
SARA: We have time for maybe one maybe two more questions, so continue to send in your questions. We won’t have time to answer all of them I can tell that already now but we will have Christee answer all of your questions and we will send that out to everyone by email, so your questions will get answered and we’ll get those out by email next week. But I know, Christee, you have some experience with associations, and Carol here is asking about volunteer organizations and I don’t know if maybe some of that would be compatible but her question is what is your best advice for managing a volunteer board?
CHRISTEE: Excellent question, Carol and I have worked with a lot of volunteer boards. It can be challenging especially if you have elected officers because it’s like every time you get a new president you’ve got a new boss. And it can be a challenge. The best advice I have is very early on hold for session where you set ground rules. Where you set the basics of how the board operates, what their responsibilities are, and what things did they have power over, what things can they get help from you on, all of those sorts of things are really good day session where you go through that and then you got the ground rules set and it’s going to make your life easier down the road. And then regular chances for them to develop their skills, classes and sessions are great, too.
SARA: Great, will thank you so much, Christee and thank you everyone for sending in your questions. Go ahead and continue to send those in. We will make sure we get those responses out to everyone and Christee are there any final thoughts or anything before we wrap up the session today?
CHRISTEE: Well, first of all I just have to say thank you so much for all the responses on this, and all the nice comments, and I really enjoyed getting a chance to talk to you about all this today and I want to summon up with the wonderful words of the absolute greatest uncommon sense practitioner I can think of Eleanor Roosevelt. She said, learn from the mistakes of others because you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.
SARA: Wonderful, wonderful. Well thank you, so much, and we do appreciate your time and we hope you found today’s webinar informative.
You may be a great accountant. That doesn’t mean you’ll be a great manager of accountants. And yet, that’s the system the business world was built upon. Basically, if you were good at what you did, you were promoted to something you weren’t good at doing. And we wonder why we developed so many workplace challenges?
In this light-hearted, but tool-packed webinar, we’ll look at the skills managers really need, we’ll laugh at the ways we’ve been developing managers by eliminating their common sense, and we’ll discover realworld ways to develop skills both inside and outside of a classroom environment.
Humorist, award-winning author, and business/governmental consultant Christee Gabour Atwood will draw on decades of consulting and training projects to give you samples of best practices that go beyond buzzwords and promote your managers to the level of “UnCommon Sense” — because common sense isn’t so common anymore…
Participants Will Learn
- The shifting sets of challenges facing today’s managers
- Tools and techniques to identify developmental needs
- UnCommon Sense Principles for effective management
- How to create ongoing learning opportunities for managers and management candidates
Who Should Attend
- Human Resources Professionals
- Organizational Development Professionals
Christee Gabour Atwood
Christee Gabour Atwood’s background includes radio announcer, newspaper columnist, television anchor, stand-up comic, association executive (which is another version of a stand-up comic), and Universal Studios tour guide (which taught her to point to her left and right).
For over two decades now she has focused her efforts on creating learning opportunities — and doing so while “Linking laughter and learning.” Her rationale? We always remember a joke longer than a lecture.
She’s the best-selling author of five business and training books, which have been translated to both Japanese and Chinese, and are used in universities from the United States to Korea and Lebanon. She’s coordinated skills development systems and the sharing of knowledge within organizations ranging from governmental agencies and municipalities, corporate and retail organizations, associations, and nonprofits, to roaming bands of kazoo players. (The kazoo players were a total loss, but the other groups benefited from her guidance and UnCommon Sense suggestions.)
For a more detailed resume with lots of company names, nice awards, and fancy-sounding certifications, visit www.Christee.biz.